Alright, so far you’ve learned from our blog posts how the Mediterranean diet will give you lots of health benefits, but now let’s talk about stimulating your palate by exploring some delicious Mediterranean diet cooking ideas.
All creatures on Earth and probably elsewhere in the universe require food in order to survive, including us humans. The importance of food is obvious and essential. Natural food sources which are plenty all over the planet gives us the necessary nutrients and energy to develop and grow, engage in physical activities and be healthy, to move, play, work, think and learn. Food affects not just our body but also our mood, mental health as well as social health.
This is because each and every solid or liquid food variety contains specific nutrient(s) like carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, fats and others that are needed by the cells and other internal organs responsible for producing naturally-occurring compounds. We will talk more about nutrients when we give you some appetizing Mediterranean diet cooking ideas later. Our bodies need 2 things in order to function properly – food and water; however, our food sources have been polluted by unhealthy alternatives like junk food and fast food, which has zero nutritional value.
What is Food?
Biological life forms on this planet require the specific conditions of this planet in order to live and thrive. Things like oxygen (and the atmosphere in general), sunlight, water, food and some beneficial microorganisms in the soil, trees and other plant life are necessary for our survival. Food has a special place in the hierarchy of needs, because it promotes good health and prevents disease. In general, it consists of essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins which are consumed by Earth-based life forms (including humans as far as scientific observations are concerned) typically via ingestion and these nutrients are then assimilated into the cells of the organism, which sustains its health. Food may come in the form of grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, oils, etc.
When it comes to Mediterranean diet cooking ideas we utilize plenty of various kinds of ingredients to make the food we eat not only delicious but also nutritious. It is often the misconception that the terms ‘food’ and ‘nutrition’ can be used interchangeably and is synonymous in many ways. However, the correct definition of food is that it is a composite mixture of various ingredients that are consumed for nutrition. On the other hand, nutrition connotes a dynamic process in which swallowed food is utilized by the human body for nourishment. Our bodies gets nourished depending on the right amount and quality of the nutrients we consume and most of the quality food comes from natural sources, so keep that in mind. When there’s lack or insufficient amount of nutrients like protein, energy or carbohydrate in our food, the end result is always developing diseases or infection.
How Does Healthy Eating Affect Our Physical, Mental and Social Health?
Before we delve deeper into the Mediterranean diet cooking ideas we must first understand how food affects our health. As we consume a particular diet in our daily lives, the food that we eat affect our body and our mental and social health. This is because every food we eat contains life-giving nutrients that are vital for our physical and mental development.
Food, whether in solid or liquid form is first broken down in our digestive system (and yes, that includes the mouth), then our small intestines breaks them down further to their basic chemical composition to prepare them for our cells to absorb. Right elements get to the right organ or tissue (e.g. essential minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and water from these meals or nourishing liquids) and are transported through the bloodstream. They are then converted into energy or a specific kind of hormone by the cells to help our body to stimulate growth and keep it healthy.
Our bodies works similar to a machine, say your car’s engine to cite an example, and food acts as the fuel, engine oil can be equated to the healthy fats we eat, and the CO2-infused air we exhale as well as our other excrement is the gas that is removed from the engine through the exhaust pipe. However, our bodies are a bit more complicated than even the most advanced engine found on Earth and this analogy is somewhat very basic. Healthy eating like the Mediterranean diet cooking ideas that we’ve prepared below helps us maintain our physical, mental and social health.
Here are Some Mediterranean Diet Cooking Ideas to Try
Mediterranean Diet Recipes for Breakfast
People are naturally famished in the morning after an 8-hour long sleep and the ghrelin hormones in their stomach are sending crazy signals to their brains for some much needed proteins. Below are some Mediterranean diet cooking ideas for breakfast for you to choose from. At least your breakfast won’t be routine or boring because you can shuffle these recipes in any way you want.
- Shakshuka: The reddish color of this classic Mediterranean dish is accentuated by simmering tomatoes, onions, spices and poached eggs, which make for a nourishing and filling breakfast meal.
- Sweet Potato Toast: Did you know that you can improve the traditional avocado toast with this trick from our Mediterranean diet cooking ideas? Here’s how: first you make sweet potato as the base, then top it off with a poached egg, spinach, avocado, and a sprinkle of black pepper. It will guarantee to make bursting flavors the moment it touches your tongue and it’s super healthy for a breakfast meal too!
- Green Shakshuka: Don’t know what to do with the leftover veggies in your fridge? Well, why not turn them into the green shakshuka?! Those Brussels sprouts, spinach, and zucchini will come in handy in creating this healthier spin on the classic dish.
- Kale and Butternut Squash Frittata: Frittatas are perfect for meal prepping – and this one’s filled with the best of winter vegetables.
- Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash: Trade your boring old white potatoes into a colorful, nutrient-dense breakfast hash.
- Homemade Yogurt: Start your morning with a bowl of fruits and nuts mix and this homemade yogurt to top it off for a sweet and healthy breakfast treat.
- Breakfast Egg Muffins: This breakfast meal is like a template where you can incorporate your favorite vegetables and proteins a very delicious morning meal that you can take with you wherever you go.
- Orange Shakshuka: This jewel of our Mediterranean diet cooking ideas is best prepared during the fall season and enjoyed with roasted butternut squash.
- Smoked Salmon Frittata: The best thing about the Mediterranean diet is that you can prepare even 1 recipe into dozens of variation and this frittata is coupled with smoked salmon, lemon squeeze and other fruits.
- Easy Oatmeal Recipe: Last but not least, create sweet and savory oatmeal bowls for a hearty and filling breakfast.
Mediterranean Diet Recipes with Legumes
Did you know? Exploring Mediterranean diet cooking ideas means that you get super creative and those bag of lentils or a can of chickpeas in your fridge could still be used to make new dishes. I know that they can be an extra source of protein when you mix them in salads, but little do people know that you can also bake them into a flatbread or blend into a hummus.
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad: This mixture of chickpeas, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, bell pepper, feta cheese, and a zesty lemon vinaigrette elevates the legumes to new heights.
- Best Hummus Recipe: This creamy blend of chickpeas is extremely versatile! It’s what people in the Mediterranean use for dipping, spreading, or dolloping their food.
- Very Best Lentil Soup: This amazing lentil soup with a smoky, savory flavor highlights the lentil’s usefulness in crafting Mediterranean diet cooking ideas.
- Falafel: These tiny meat ball-looking falafel is actually created from chickpeas and will definitely bedazzle you to come back for more! Keep in mind that they’re best consumed together with tahini sauce.
- Falafel Flatbread: The standard falafel is a ball of vegetable goodies with chickpeas at its core, but you can also make it into a flatbread if you just use your creativity as that’s what our Mediterranean diet cooking ideas is all about.
- Lentil Salad with Cucumber: Lentils and diced cucumber work wonders to create a crisp, refreshing side salad.
- Crispy Socca with Pear and Arugula Salad: This dish is fairly easy to make and all you have to do is use chickpea flour to make this exquisite nutty and herby socca.
Healthy Mediterranean Diet Snacks
Sure, eating heavy meals is super fun but you’d want something to nibble on in between meals, don’t you? I think we all do. Other snacks in our Mediterranean diet cooking ideas include vegetable sticks dipped into any creamy and flavorful dips, which is great for binge watching Netflix shows.
- Baba Ganoush: You’ll definitely enjoy this roasted eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice, various seasonings, and sometimes tahini sauce as an afternoon snack.
- Green Goddess Hummus: You can attribute this dish as part of the green Mediterranean diet, because it adds more fresh herbs and veggies to the classic hummus recipe.
- Roasted Beet Hummus with Basil Pesto: You may be used to the classic hummus with a yellow color and creamy texture, but making hummus with roasted beets turns it into vibrant red that’s both flavorful and aesthetically pleasing.
- Roasted Cauliflower Hummus: If you can’t find chickpeas around, then you can replace it with cauliflower, which when roasted creates a scrumptious veggie-heavy, creamy hummus dip.
- Smoked Salmon, Avocado, and Cucumber Bites: Those potato chips may have grown into you but they have very little nutritional value to offer. Trade them up for these cucumber slices, avocado and smoked salmon snack recipe!
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: Want something exotic for your snacks? Then try this revolting Mediterranean recipe blend!
Fresh and Easy to Make Mediterranean Diet Salads
Some of our more interesting Mediterranean diet cooking ideas are salads and they’re actually very easy to prepare, so if you wanted something to munch on for whatever reason, you can make these salads in no time.
- Salmon Avocado Salad: Pan-seared salmon is layered on top of spinach, avocado, tomatoes, and red onions for a salad that’s big on nutrients and flavor.
- Israeli Salad: This salad is made up of diced tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, onion, and fresh herbs. Didn’t know that there was a kosher salad, did you?
- Caprese Salad: The ripe red tomatoes, fresh green basil leaves and creamy mozzarella gives this salad a Christmas vibe to it. It has been a staple food of the Italians for centuries!
- Easy Cucumber Salad: Enjoy this summer/spring salad delight that’s made up of sliced cucumbers, onion, dill, and vinegar.
- Greek Salad: Somehow the Greeks discovered the art of making the perfect salad recipe and it includes ingredients like cucumbers, tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion, olives and feta cheese. This is perfect for your Mediterranean diet cooking ideas as it not only provides excellent flavors but also super healthy.
- Cauliflower Rice Tabbouleh: Bulgur is normally added to this mix, but swapping it with cauliflower rice will take out gluten from the equation yet will not sacrifice the flavor.
- Watermelon, Cucumber, and Feta Salad: This watermelon, cucumber and feta salad is so simple, delicious and refreshing. It’s the perfect summer salad for barbecues, picnics and parties.
- Shrimp, Asparagus, and Avocado Salad: Try a Mediterranean salad with a touch of seafood. Loaded with protein, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate this salad will absolutely entertain your taste buds and fill your body with excellent nutrients.
- Melon Mozzarella Salad with Basil: This simple summertime salad is always a crowd-pleaser.
Vegetable-Fueled Mediterranean Food
When talking about Mediterranean diet cooking ideas there are no limits and all types of veggies are welcome in your weekly meals. Be sure to use herbs and spices to elevate your dish to that of 5-star hotels’ menu.
- Zucchini Noodle Caprese: To enjoy a lazy afternoon zucchini noodle caprese salad all you need is medium zucchini, cherry tomatoes, small balls of buffalo mozzarella, basil pesto and toasted pine nuts for garnish.
- Spaghetti Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Crispy Shallots: Spaghetti squash, Brussels sprouts, and crispy shallots is an easy throw-together side dish loaded with savory fall flavors. It’s a light, veggie-heavy recipe that squash lovers will keep coming back to.
- Sauteed Cabbage: The blended flavors of onions and garlic on a sautéed cabbage will leave you stunned and satisfied at the same time.
- Warm Sweet Potato Noodles, Cabbage, and Lentil Salad: Between the flavors of this salad and how it can make you feel like you’ve eaten a heavy meal; it’s also packed with proteins, dietary fibers and vitamins!
- Sweet Potato Soup: This sweet potato soup is perfect for cold weather, especially during the fall season.
- Celery Root Puree with Balsamic Roasted Beets: When this puree is mixed with balsamic roasted beets and pearl onions, the flavors are unreal.
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup: Have you ever tasted the caramelized roasted butternut squash before? If not, then this is your opportunity to prepare a very delicious and delightful butternut squash soup that takes soups to a different level.
- Baked Sweet Potato: Eating this healthy veggie snack is like eating a very tasty bread, except you can stuff it with veggies, legumes, and shredded chicken and drizzle it with tzatziki sauce that’s not possible with bread.
- Beet Soup: One thing that the Mediterranean diet excels above others is the many vibrant colors of the food that comes from it and this beet soup is exceptional! This is one of my favorite Mediterranean diet cooking ideas.
Recommended Reading: The Best Avalon Pockets Health Tip
Fish and Other Seafood has a Special Place in the Mediterranean Diet
In the United States, people get their protein mostly from meat sources such as beef, pork and poultry. People in the Mediterranean Basin often get it from fish and other seafood and it is by far the healthier choice. They’re also very easy to prepare, so you can have your meal in no time.
- Baked Tuna Meatballs: Not all canned foods are unhealthy and the canned tuna can be transformed into the most delicious, savory meatballs that you’ve never tasted before.
- Best Baked Cod: You only need 4 main ingredients to make the perfect baked cod recipe and those are garlic, butter, and lemon.
- Garlic Grilled Shrimp Skewers: The herb mix used to marinate this shrimp skewers is what makes it taste great. It includes garlic, olive oil, cilantro and parsley, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
- Dijon Baked Salmon: If you love an herby, dijon flavor – this recipe is a must!
- Scallops With Citrus Ginger Sauce: Make a sweet, tangy and juicy scallops in 10 minutes and have a happy meal! (No pun intended)
- Garlic Butter Shrimp: What people don’t realize is that in coming up with Mediterranean diet cooking ideas, you can mix any ingredients you want for the meal you’ll prepare (provided they will produce the desired outcome in terms of flavor), because almost all of the raw materials in the Mediterranean diet gives out the best flavor to any dish. Just like this sautéed garlic butter shrimp for example.
- Tuna Salad: This is a light and fresh comfort food classic. Made with a few simple ingredients such as canned tuna, mayonnaise, onion and celery, it’s the perfect combination of creamy and crispy. Serve this in a sandwich, wrap it in lettuce, or stuff it in avocado halves for a healthy, throw-together lunch.
- Zucchini Pasta with Lemon Garlic Shrimp: I’d like to call this dish zuchinni noodles or “zoodles” for short. A blend of pasta, shrimp, garlic and other ingredients make a savory meal for any occasion.
- Salmon Patties: Eager to get into the kitchen and whip something up from our Mediterranean diet cooking ideas? Well, we’re not done with you yet, so brace yourself for more! These salmon patties will make you feel filled with a couple of bites and they’re also loaded with vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
- Cucumber Melon Gazpacho with Ginger Shrimp: How about a combination of warm ginger shrimp and cooling soup at the same time? Confused? Just prepare all the ingredients and start mixing and cooking this meal and you’ll see what I mean.
- Roasted Branzino with Citrus Pesto: The branzino white fish goes very well with a homemade citrus pesto, especially when this fish is roasted.
Light and Healthy Meat Recipes
Normally meat is recommended to be consumed in lesser amounts, especially red meat; however, you can prepare light yet healthy meat-based meals from our Mediterranean diet cooking ideas.
- Greek Chicken Kabobs: Chunks of chicken breast are drenched in lemon, garlic, oregano, and olive oil before being skewered with loads of colorful vegetables.
- One Pan Chicken and Rice: Rice people like the Asians and Russians are going to love this recipe, because of its bright and citrusy Mediterranean flavors, meaty chicken thighs and some fluffy rice.
- Grilled Chicken Souvlaki: This recipe is somewhat similar to the Greek Chicken Kabobs that also comes with a vegan tzatziki sauce, but with fewer vegetables.
- Ultimate Chicken Salad: Enjoy simple diced chicken with crisp celery, green onion, fresh grapes, and a creamy dijon mayonnaise sauce.
- Zucchini Noodles with Chicken, Spinach, and Parmesan: This is basically the vegetarian version of the Italian carbonara recipe.
- Roasted Balsamic Chicken with Brussels Sprouts: You’ll definitely fall in love with this glazed chicken thighs seasoned with Brussels sprouts.
- Basil Chicken with Kumquats: Another chicken recipe from our Mediterranean diet cooking ideas that’s ideal for famish folks, yes, that includes you.
- Poached Chicken and Winter Vegetable Soup: Poached chicken and winter vegetables come together for a nourishing, hearty, healing soup recipe.
For days when you want to splurge on red-meat, here’s a few lighter favorites:
- Mediterranean Ground Beef Stir Fry: When you want something healthy and very delicious to eat immediately, then this is the recipe you need to prepare.
- Pork and Fennel Meatballs: Talk about all-in-one meal but you can pair it with a side of sautéed veggies, or toss them into a zoodle pasta to add some calories to your meal.
- Rosemary Grilled Lamb Chops: Grilled lamb chops with rosemary toppings make a delectable meal.
Create Delicious Mediterranean Diet Bowls
Leftovers are not a thing to worry about for our Mediterranean diet cooking ideas, because you can make something new out of them. Start with a base of grains or leafy greens. Pile on fresh or roasted vegetables, chickpeas, falafels, nuts, seeds or olives. Then add a dollop of your favorite hummus blend or a drizzle of tzatziki sauce. Find some ideas below:
- Base: Broccoli rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, or leafy greens.
- Cooked Greens: Roasted brussels sprouts, roasted broccoli, green beans with shallots and lemon, or garlic sauteed swiss chard.
- Fresh Greens: Diced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, avocado or bell pepper.
- Potatoes: garlic herb roasted potatoes or roasted sweet potatoes.
So what do you think of our Mediterranean diet cooking ideas? Did you like them? I certainly hope so because this could be the start of a new day for you and adhering to the Mediterranean diet will give you lots of health benefits.